The Korea Herald

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[Editorial] Challenge to ‘time-off’

By 로컬편집기사

Published : April 10, 2011 - 18:27

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Tensions are growing between the management and labor of Hyundai Motor Co. over the “time-off” system. The automaker’s trade union is stepping up opposition to the new system as it would drastically cut the number of employer-paid full-time union officials.

The time-off system went into effect in July last year. According to the Ministry of Employment and Labor, as of March this year, about 90 percent of companies employing 100 workers or more have already introduced it or are set to do so.

But the fate of the new scheme depends very much on how it is implemented at Hyundai Motor, the nation’s largest unionized workplace with 45,000 members. The company’s labor and management recently started talks on the time-off arrangement as their collective agreement expired on March 31.

Under the law, the union can have a maximum 24 employer-paid full-time union officials, about one-tenth of the current 233. But it wants to maintain the status quo. As the union refuses to submit a list of 24 full-time leaders, the company has put the entire 233 union officials on unpaid leave.

On Saturday, the union resolved to launch an all-out campaign to abolish the time-off scheme. Behind the union stand the nation’s two umbrella labor groups ― the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions and the Federation of Korean Trade Unions ― and the five opposition political parties.

The labor groups and the opposition parties recently agreed to jointly push for the revision of labor laws to annul the time-off system and change the rules on multiple unionism that are scheduled to go into effect on July 1 this year.

In the face of the union’s challenge, Hyundai Motor’s management needs to renew its resolve to abide by the law. If it makes any concessions to the union, it could put the whole time-off system in peril.

For its part, the Employment Ministry needs to keep an eye on how the conflict at Hyundai plays out. It should ensure that the company does not use expedient ways to meet the union’s demand.